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Rev up and cool down your mornings with cold brew coffee
Confession: I am a fussy coffee drinker. But not in the “half-caf foamy vanilla whip blah blah whatever” you are probably thinking. I just happen to only drink iced coffee. Like, always. Even when it’s the dead of winter and I’m walking in a snowstorm. I can’t help it – hot drinks just make me more thirsty. Now that summer is here though, I’m not the only one cooling off with a cube-filled cup!
The other thing that makes me fussy about my coffee is that I like it to taste halfway decent. No pouring the hot stuff over iced cubes, resulting in a watered-down lukewarm cup o’ joe. No burnt taste (I’m looking at you, Starbucks.) I admit I’m a coffee snob. Thankfully I live in a huge city and delicious iced coffees are not hard to find. I know this is not always the case though, having suffered through a few rough patches during visits to my wee midwestern hometown before we got our very own coffee shop.
Unfortunately going out for coffee can really add up. Unlike a perfectly pulled shot of espresso, delicious cold brew iced coffee is super easy to make at home, and you don’t even need any fancy equipment! You probably have everything you need in your kitchen already. I cold brewed my coffee in a regular old kitchen pot for years before I upgraded to…wait for it…a large mason jar. Swanky.
What exactly is this cold brew business I speak of? With cold brew you steep the coffee grinds in cold (or room temp) water instead of hot. It takes longer, but this leads to more nuanced flavors that are easy to miss with traditional brewing methods.
Coffee beans have flavor notes just like wine – often things like chocolate, toffee, berry, citrus – and good beans should also note how acidic they are. The other awesome thing about iced coffee: although more work goes into making it on filtering day, the rest of the days you can just pour and go! Your morning routine just got faster.
Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate
This recipe makes a concentrate, so you will have to add more water when you want to drink it, but it takes up less space in your refrigerator than the full batch.
• 1 cup ground coffee
• 2.5 cups cold water
• Medium pot
• Fine-mesh sieve
• Extra pot or bowl
• Coffee filter that fits your funnel (#2 size for me)
• Large jar with a lid
1. Pour grinds and water into a large mason jar or pot and cover. Let steep for 12 hours. Countertop is fine, but if you have space in your refrigerator you can put it in there and it will be cold right away upon filtering.
2. After 12 hours pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into another pot or bowl and throw the resulting grinds away. The longer it steeps the more bitter your coffee will become, so while you don’t have to be a stickler about time, you’re best to try to stick pretty close to the 12 hour mark.
3. Stick the funnel in the jar and line it with a coffee filter. Begin to pour the coffee in. This second step catches any small bits that the sieve might have missed so you don’t end up with a mealy last sip in your cup. This part of the process is the most time-consuming. Depending on the size of your funnel, it will probably take a couple of separate pours.
4. Pop the jar in the fridge. Whenever you would like a cup of coffee, measure out some of the coffee concentrate over ice and add twice that amount of water. Stir to mix, and enjoy!
Options: You can play around with a number of different factors to adjust the coffee according to your taste. The biggest ones: grind to water ratio, concentrate to water ratio, steep time, and origin of bean. For example, if you would like a stronger cup use less water in steeping or diluting – or steep for a longer amount of time.
Tips: One thing is super important when choosing coffee to cold brew: select decent beans. This doesn’t mean you have to buy $20 bags of fancy pants beans (although those will probably taste amazing!) but it does mean you should stay away from the Folger’s.
If you have the means to grind your own beans at home, you get the best flavor from beans ground right before you brew. If not, try a place like Trader Joe’s or another market that will let you grind the coffee in the store instead of purchasing pre-ground coffee.
There is some debate as to whether you should use a coarse or a fine grind for cold brew, but as of late people have been into a fine grind, saying it gives more surface area & more flavor. I usually grind one or two notches above the super fine espresso grind.
Tasting Notes: Take a look at the notes on the label. Your pick will vary depending on your personal taste, but I skew towards descriptions of chocolate, caramel, and toffee for a smoother cup. You really notice these flavors if you happen to be drinking your coffee with food. Cold brew results in lower acidity, making it a smoother cup on the palate, but it is best to use beans that are already low in acid.
we heartsters – do you switch to iced coffee during the summertime?
photos: heather for we heart this